BRUSSELS – Belgian officials say a 27-year-old man has died after a coronavirus outbreak at a super-spreading St. Nick’s party nursing home last month, but they hope the situation is under control.
A December 4 visit was planned to the home of Hemeliz ck in the city of Mall, northern Belgium, in which he played the role of a beloved saint, usually spreading joy and gifts. But the city and the families of some of the dead have complained that nursing homes should never host a party when measures are being taken to curb epidemics across the country.
The mall said “the incident was not coordinated with the emergency cell,” and they would have stopped it if they had heard about it beforehand.
The municipality said on New Year’s Eve that 27 people had died.
At Hemelijak Nursing Home, no one was available for comment on Friday. In the last count, there were 88 infections among residents and 42 among staff at home.
Lily Lenarts, whose sister Angel, 85, was the first person to die after the outbreak, is upset about how the nursing home treats family members.
“I still haven’t received a shading card (from a nursing home) and I’ve been visiting for four years,” he told Hats Lets Stay News.
St. Nicholas is a traditional December day for giving gifts and it is more important for Belgian children than Santa Claus on December 25, which is primarily a family gathering.
Initially, an actor from the St. Nick group was thought to be the source of the outbreak, but subsequent research could not make a complete decision.
“It cannot be said with 100% certainty that he introduced her to a care home,” said Mark van Renste, a well-known virologist in Belgium. He added that “the person was a volunteer at the care home and could theoretically be infected by a resident or a staff member.”
The city said the outbreak had finally stabilized.
“There has been a significant improvement in the health status of residents,” the city said in a statement.
Belgium, a country of 11.5 million people, has so far confirmed 19,528 epidemics of the virus, many of which are in nursing homes.